Journey to Ancient Holy Land — Jordan & Israel

It is a remarkable experience to walk where Jesus walked. To stand in ancient, beautifully preserved cities. To visit magnificent, lush landscapes and vibrant urban communities. Watch Bob’s two short videos (Jordan & Israel), and scroll down to read some highlights and view some of our favorite photos.

Jordan is incredibly picturesque. We had, of course, seen many photos of Petra … and quickly realized that we had seen photos only of Petra’s Treasury, which is at the entrance and is only the beginning of the enormous ancient Nabatean city, beautifully preserved. We spent the day in Petra, hiking several miles and 800+ steps up to the Monastery. And we loved other highlights of Jordan, including gorgeous mosaics in Madaba and the Roman city of Jerash, one of the world’s best-preserved. Our Jordanian guide Jafar is terrific.

Bob’s short video on Jordan:

A highlight of our visit to Israel, of course, was visiting Jerusalem, its Old City, Temple Mount and many well-known sites described over millennia. We walked on original street tiles and marveled at ancient, sophisticated water systems. Our excellent Israeli guide, Uri, is very generous with his knowledge and passion.

We were amazed by King Herod’s audacious building projects: the port city of Caesaria (he built a huge artificial reef!), the mountaintop palace of Herodion (he built an enormous artificial mountain!), and the mountaintop palace at Masada.

Bob’s short video on Israel:

We visited several kibbutzim in the Golan Heights, and stayed at one that sits high on a buff overlooking the Sea of Galilee — spectacular and lush. We drove to the Syrian border and peered across. We floated in the Dead Sea — sit down, lean back, and your legs pop up to the surface! At 34% salinity, it’s shockingly difficult to stand up — and do not turn over onto your stomach! At 1,300′ below sea level, it’s the lowest place on Earth.

Visiting Bethlehem in the Palestinian Territory involved passing through an Israeli security checkpoint. We visited so many historic sites, including Nazareth.

Our trip* happened to coincide with several major holidays — Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year), and Sukkot (harvest thanksgiving). Our schedule was flexible, as many places were closed and we learned about the Shabbat elevator (stops on every floor as observant Jews can’t push the buttons on electrical devices). It was a special experience to be in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur — totally quiet, empty streets.

Oh, and we ate! We ate the best hummus and falafel. We ate beautiful fresh produce. We ate delicious local specialities.

*We traveled with OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel). Its focus on small groups (14 in our group), authentic experiences, cultural exchange and difficult topics always makes for a great trip. Use our referral number for $100 off your first trip: 531931. Israel: The Holy Land & Timeless Cultures